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Gucci tramples Buddha business claim

Calcutta, June 30: Designer fashion accessories manufacturer Gucci today denied Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s claim that the company was considering Bengal as a business destination.

After returning from a three-day tour of Italy undertaken to showcase Bengal as an investment centre, the chief minister had said that in July, “two representatives from Gucci are coming to visit the Bantala leather complex”.

Bhattacharjee’s claim about Gucci was placed in perspective during the day by the company’s worldwide director of human resources, Renato Ricci. In a faxed message to the chief minister, Ricci said: “While it was a pleasure to have you visit our facilities, it was never our intention to discuss Bengal as a potential business destination.”

Ricci asserted that his company has “no intention to send any Gucci representative to India”.

The chief minister as well as his office said they had not received any message from Gucci till this evening.

“To be honest with you, I was not present when the honourable chief minister was visiting us, but I can tell you that from our perspective, it was a courtesy visit and had nothing to do with business interests. We showed him our leather goods, which is our core business,” said a senior Gucci official when contacted over phone in Milan today.

The Gucci official told The Telegraph that as there had been a “misunderstanding” about Bhattacharjee’s visit, the company wanted to put the record straight by clarifying the exact purpose of the visit.

“We were contacted by a business group and told that an Indian delegation led by the Bengal chief minister wanted to visit us. So, out of courtesy, we arranged for the tour, and let me assure you, none of our business, trade or technical official was around during his visit. He was shown around by our worldwide director of human resources,” the official said.

Not mincing words, Ricci’s fax said: “First of all, we are not interested in tanning, manufacturing, training, designing and packaging in India.”

Gucci outsources its material from Italy and Switzerland and “definitely” does not use anything from India, the official who spoke over phone said. Gucci manufactures all its products in Italy, except watches, which are made in Switzerland.

In the fax message, the Italian company, however, offered to discuss the transfer of technology to help achieve acceptable standards in the leather goods industry. But, the official said, the company was “not interested in any discussion” during Bhattacharjee’s visit.

“I confirm that we are not considering setting up any production in Bantala, even if this could result in lowering our production costs,” Ricci’s fax read.

Italian consul-general Dominico Benin Casa, who is leaving the city for his next assignment in Moscow, met the chief minister at Writers’ Buildings today.

In his courtesy call to Bhattacharjee, the consul-general said Italy’s business ties with the state were bright in four areas, including leather and food processing.

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